TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBS 2) — Friends have been bringing flowers to the charred spot where Ocean Gate Police Officer Jason Marles was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver early Thanksgiving morning, CBS 2HD’s Christine Sloan reports.
Police said the suspect was captured after fleeing the scene with several other people.
“I heard that they left him down here and took off. They left him trapped in the car,” said Shannon Flynn, Marles’ friend.
Police said Marles was trapped in his personal jeep, which burst into flames after being pushed into a guardrail. It happened just minutes after the father of two ended his shift in a police SUV.
Friends have come to cry, place purple bunting and bring flowers.
“It’s kind of ironic. I spoke to him at Wawa at 2 in the morning. He said he was doing DWI checks the whole night. Then I heard about this, I said why, just why. It’s a cruel irony,” said friend Keith Rodriguez. “Officer Jay, he was a really great officer, but other than that he was a really great friend. He’d give you the shirt off of his back if he could.”
Marles, who friends said was divorced but planning on getting back together with his wife, leaves behind two children, aged four and five.
“Good family guy. He loved his kids. They’re really going to miss him. I don’t know how they’re going to explain to the kids that daddy is not coming home because of a drunk driver,” said cousin Robert Smith.
The wife of Jersey City police officer Marc Dinardo, who was killed in the line of duty, was in Ocean Gate visiting family when this tragedy occurred. She planned on reaching out to Marles’s ex-wife.
“Stay strong and she will get through this. It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be a long road, I am in no way near healed,” said Mary DiNardo.
The driver who crashed into the officer has been identified as Erick Uzcategui. The chief of the tiny police department said the 10-year veteran will be dearly missed.
“I can tell you the type of guy he was. He was a fan favorite with the kids, a good friend to many people,” said Chief Reece Fisher.
Funeral arrangements have not been made for Officer Marles, who would have turned 33 next month.